Weather tracker: heatwave sweeps parts of Europe in run-up to summer solstice | Environment

Extreme heat has been affecting the Iberian peninsula and France over the past week. These high temperatures have occurred unusually early, with this event likely to be one of the most severe before the summer solstice.

It follows the warmest May on record for France and hottest for Spain in at least 100 years. Temperatures have been about 10C above the average in some places for this time of year, putting intense pressure on vulnerable groups and the demand for electricity for air conditioning.

The extreme heat developed after a plume of hot air traveled north from North Africa as a result of high pressure across the Mediterranean. The high pressure system intensified across south-west Europe as the week progressed, causing temperatures to rise further, aided by dry soils.

On Friday 10 June, temperatures peaked at 41.6C (106.9F) in Badajoz, Spain, with the first 40C of 2022 also recorded in Portugal. The following day, temperatures in Seville topped 41.6C, well above the average maximum temperature of 33C.

On Monday 13 June, temperatures peaked at 38C in France, with 40.7C recorded in Madrid. The average maximum temperature for the city is about 30C. On 14 June, temperatures reached 42.6C in the Spanish city of Villarrobledo. On 15 June, temperatures soared to 37.1C in Châteaumeillant, France, with highs of 43C reported in southern Spain. The next day, for the first time in 2022 in France, temperatures exceeded 40C in the commune of Argelliers.

Temperatures are forecast to reduce slightly across Spain this weekend but the heat is expected to intensify across France, gradually transferring north-eastwards towards Benelux, Germany and then Poland by Sunday.

Southern parts of the US have also been experiencing record-breaking heat over recent days. Temperatures are expected to remain very high across the south this weekend, soaring across the Plains this weekend.

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By next week, southern and south-eastern parts of the US are likely to experience the highest temperatures owing to an almost stationary upper-level ridge of high pressure.

Latest forecast models indicate a handful of states in the south-east, including Georgia, Alabama and Florida, could break their temperature records.

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